It's the Way You Say It: Becoming Articulate, Well-spoken, and Clear

It's the Way You Say It: Becoming Articulate, Well-spoken, and Clear

by Carol A. Fleming

Paperback(Second Edition, Revised)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781609947439
Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 03/11/2013
Edition description: Second Edition, Revised
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 248,063
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Carol A. Fleming, PhD, is a speech pathologist and a personal communication coach with thirty years of experience working with thousands of clients from all walks of life. She is the founder of the Sound of Your Voice, a consultancy specializing in vocal development and communication training.

Read an Excerpt

As you communicate with people, they come to know you both as an individual and as a professional. The only way that people can sense your intelligence and professionalism is through the effectiveness of your communication: what they hear you say, the attitude that they perceive, and the very sound of your voice.
Professional communication is important to people in every line of work. While your expertise and skills are, of course, essential, it is your personal verbal communication that transmits your expertise and confidence to other people. While many books out there on communication will tell you what to say, few address how to say it, and even fewer will help you learn how to work specifically with your speech and your voice.
I’ve been working with people on refining the sound of their voices for over thirty years. As a speech and language pathologist, I use the education and skills developed for the clinic and apply them to the more subtle needs of the business and professional world. While others may offer public speaking training, speech therapy, or theater skills, I take a holistic approach, helping people address any concerns they may have about the impression they make by the way they communicate both verbally and nonverbally. The reason this approach succeeds is that body, words, and voice must ideally communicate the same thing at the same time for the speaker to come across as professional, trustworthy, and appealing.
I’ve found that virtually everyone has some aspect of their speech about which they feel insecure or on which others have commented. People come into my office feeling nervous, and they always ask, “Can I really change my voice?” The answer I offer them is, “You absolutely can—with instruction and practice.” In this book, I’ve laid out all the most common communication complaints I’ve seen, along with the exercises that I’ve used successfully with thousands of clients over the years.
This is not as simple or as straightforward as it appears since we have a unique relationship with the sound of our own voice. We are the sound of our voice. Our speaking is our personality. Our internal thoughts and feelings are communicated to the rest of the world with our voice. You draw much of your understanding of other people from just the sound of their voice. Even though you may be more or less conscious of this process, the vocal information is being processed at a level that is deeply visceral and emotional. So you’ve got to figure that people are processing your voice in the same way.
I’d recommend that you go through Chapter 1 of this book first. It starts you on an assessment of specific problems or concerns. A more detailed analysis is possible using the approach presented in the Appendix. The results of your efforts will help you choose the issues you wish to address. Chapter 2 is a series of self-contained chapters on specific vocal challenges, and each includes effective vocal exercises tailored to that problem. Once you’ve addressed all the specific vocal problems, you’ll be ready to move on to the rest of the book. Chapter 3 covers voice enhancement techniques that will help you refine your voice into one that people will want to listen to. Chapter 4 covers what to say with that newly refined voice of yours, and Chapter 5 will help you pair your verbal communications with appropriate and persuasive body language. Finally, Chapter 6 goes into how to adjust your communications for specific professional circumstances, including job interviews and presentations.
While every chapter in this book is self-contained, some readers may find that they’d like to hear examples of specific problems. My CD, The Sound of Your Voice, is available if you’d like to refer to that additional resource.
You might start looking for a recording device for your speech and voice work because listening to instructions, examples, and your own efforts is usually an important part of speech and voice change. In addition, you will need to be able to record, pause, play, and replay.
Your recorder should have a counter so you know where you are. You want as high a quality as you can manage so you can hear yourself accurately.
Many of you might want to use miniature digital recorders for our work. If you are working on speech or voice, these devices may not be adequate. However, if the quality of sound is not an issue, such as when recording a passage for speed control, the smaller digital recorders might be useful.
There are action steps in virtually every chapter, because you will change your speaking by practicing a new behavior until it replaces the old, unwanted one. The qualities of perseverance and patience will be important to you.
One of my clients, a young woman from New Zealand, managed a credible American accent after only two lessons. Another client was a young, beginning newscaster. He brought me videotapes of his first assignments, and we both agreed they were embarrassing. We analyzed them for clarity and professionalism and made a makeover plan. In one week, he was a different person: mature, composed, and television-ready. I saw him on the newscast just last night. These two people were highly motivated. When you are completely committed to change, you will have the motive and strength to ignore distractions and maintain the practice schedule required for behavior change. I’ve never had one client regret the work that it took to achieve a new, more effective vocal communication style.
Some people have painful memories of failed attempts at self-improvement. From what I’ve been able to observe they have greatly underestimated the necessity of focused and sustained effort. They make a few gestures toward their goal, don’t see immediate results, and conclude, “It doesn’t work!” It does, too!! We know that there is nothing more important than deliberate practice in behavioral development. The word “deliberate” means that you must be mindful of the improvement you are trying to make. Your attention must be completely involved in learning. Your motivation will help you focus completely on your task. If you need any evidence on the efficacy of deliberate practice, take a look at Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success. For those of you who want to examine the research that led up to the famous “ten-thousand-hour” formula, I have included the Ericssen reference in the Citations section. Do not think that you can practice successfully while the television is on, or while you are doing anything else. The roots of our communication patterns are too deeply embedded in our brains for superficial efforts to have any effect. I have seen the lives of business and professional people become increasingly pressed and pressured. They do not “have” the time to work on their speaking; they must “make” the time.
I usually ask people to practice at least three or four times a day for six- to twelve-minute practice periods. People frequently imagine that they are going to put in a good solid hour of practice right after dinner. They fool themselves. They will be tired and distracted at that time. An hour is too long for the kind of concentration it requires. But frequent, short practice periods work very well for the adult learner. You must find the schedule that allows you to devote your complete attention to your speech work. As much as you would like to use the apparent “downtime” of driving to practice, I urge you to resist the opportunity. Driving is far too dangerous an activity to complicate with speech learning.
Try to make it fun, and give yourself a reward for each day you complete your full practice time. Give the new learning a chance to become easy and habitual. If you’ve got the motivation for deliberate practice, you will get good results for your efforts.
One last tip before we get started: Any new behavior, speech or otherwise, will feel strange (wrong, weird, or phony). What feels fine is how you’ve always done it. What feels alarmingly strange will probably sound quite good. I promise, over time, the new habit will become the one that feels most comfortable. Remind yourself that this improvement will help you get to where you want to be in your career and in your life in general. It’s good to ask a few trusted friends to listen to you and offer you regular feedback, but make sure everyone knows that virtually everyone who tries a new communication pattern does so in a stilted, overly correct manner because they’re speaking self-consciously. This will smooth out, I promise. We are aiming for easy, natural-sounding speech, and that will come in time with deliberate practice.
Understand that you are setting your foot on a path that will have the greatest impact on your life and will be worth extraordinary commitment. The great Henry James had this to say about your journey:
All life therefore comes back to the question of our speech, the medium through which we communicate with each other; for all life comes back to the question of our relations with each other … the way we say a thing, or fail to say it, fail to learn to say it, has an importance in life that is impossible to overstate—a far-reaching importance, as the very hinge of the relation of man to man.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Assessing Your Voice
Part 2: Resolving Specific Problems
Part 3: Developing a Dynamic Voice
Part 4: Becoming Well-Spoken
Part 5: Unifying Your Verbal and Nonverbal Messages
Part 6: Let’s Talk Business!

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From the Publisher

“No other skills will position you ahead of your competition as much as good speaking and presentation skills. No book approaches the depth and breadth of Dr. Carol Fleming’s It’s the Way You Say It.”
—Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE, keynote speaker, executive speech coach, and president of Fripp & Associates

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